The Early Days of a Better Nation

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Faceless internet blogs are forever blabbering on

In today's Sunday Herald regular columnist Joanna Blythman repeats a misconception that I've come across before: that 'bloggers' are people who write comments in the online forums of newspapers. This is a bit like thinking that 'journalists' are people who write letters to the editor. A person labouring under such a misconception might wonder why anyone should bother reading these strange 'printed newsheets' full of the uninformed scribblings of 'journalists'.

She concludes:
Glowing exceptions apart – and to be honest, I’m struggling to think of them – my reluctance to plough through pages of web comments is also a reaction to the abysmally low standard of writing that prevails. Why waste precious time wading through postings from cowardly, faceless bloggers who click on their internet search engine, find a chat forum, and then let their bellies rumble? We all have better things to do. Don’t we?
I'm not sure whether to envy her for the amount of time she has for more productive activities, or pity her for the amount of delight she's missing. Because the glowing exceptions she's struggling to think of add up to a daily growing volume of writing - of good blog posts and thoughtful or witty or for that matter scurrilous comments - that would on any given day take far more than 24 hours to read. And that on any given day already takes up far too much of mine.


On another subject, I notice that North Korea has its own operating system, based on Linux and called Red Star.

Where's Dissembler when you need it?

Blogs take up a lot of my time as well these days. It's no waste at all, since I'm selective and learn a lot from them. Again, take the WikiLeaks scoop as a fine example. I had seen the word a few times, but paid no attention to the site. Then, while perusing BoingBoing on the video's release day , I saw the name, the (in)famous video, and all those links in the very first post. I got tremendously excited by the possibilities I could think up for democracy, news dissemination (in a world that is starting to suffer symptoms of rag-withdrawal), and opinion forming. I sent the post at once to a Dutch columnist. His blog is Holland's most widely read political "publication." Within half a day the columnist described the whole amazing phenomenon and placed the video on his blog. Concealment or misinformation became nearly impossible. It's possible that the blogger got it from me, but I do not yet know.

This is something essentially new. If one knows the right blogs to look at, one can get information that is often difficult to find elsewhere. Now it is a standard principle of decision theory and ethics that a decision or opinion on some matter should be taken or formed in a situation where the persons concerned have a maximally large informational base . Today's newspapers (online editions too) are information-poor: many have no investigative journalists, foreign correspondents have been fired for lack of subscribers, advertisers are deserting many rags (causing yet more firings and skimpiness), and many media have their contents dictated by Moguls and/or advertisers. I consider all this to be a threat to democratic activity (see above). So I go to the reliable blogs, often before reading the online papers and the streams on my feeds. This is revolutionary, and I haven't mentioned the blogs devoted to special (e.g. scientific) subjects only. I am thrilled but cannot predict the outcome of all this.

As well as not knowing what a blogger is, she seems to have missed the news that "Orlando Figes' wife" turned out to be Orlando Figes.

As George Berger says, she misses entirely the bit about bloggers being better informed about subjects. Moreover many bloggers, eg those working in the public services or writing about their sex lives would be compromised if their anonmymity was lost.

I wonder if we'll see much of an attack on online anonymity, because the Observer had a discussion about it as well, since apparently the Washington Post is reviewing its discussion policy.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Neil, I've deleted your comment because you've dragged in your 'organ-legging' story, which has already been done to death. I am not interested. If any of my readers are interested, they can read all about it on your own blog, which I link to in my blog sidebar.

Any further comment from you that includes or comprises all or part of the substance of your final sentence will be deleted, no matter how cogent or on-topic the rest of it happens to be.

weaver - to be fair, that part of the story probably broke after the column had been sent in.

she seems to have missed the news that "Orlando Figes' wife" turned out to be Orlando Figes.

Well, I am a firm believer in the right to marry oneself ....

to be fair, that part of the story probably broke after the column had been sent in

Well, indeed - but I'm told us internet commenters are supposed to be super-meanies about stuff.

I think one of the key elements is that bloggers self-edit. Stuff still doesn't get covered, for all sorts of reasons, but it's our choice. We're not forced to conform to some official line.
I wonder whether the story was her idea, or her bosses'?

Some reputable organisation released a report of its recent study of blogging. I saw it referred to online a few days ago and looked for it. Only the abstract is available free of charge and I neglected to follow it up. Now I forget where I found it. Besides stressing the boosts to information dissemination that I mentioned above, it shows that left-wing blogs are superior to those of the right in several respects. They are more often better researched, more extensive, and better argued than right-Wing blogs. I forget the rest but think it important to mention this study.

I cannot imagine a world without Art Silber. That's all, really.

If I had to endure five hundred or a thousand hacking attempts at prose, or banal insights into naught and nothingness (including my own) in order to have access to Art, it would be worth it.

And much respect to you, Mr. MacLeod. Without this medium, I wouldn't have the treat of reading you, or David Brin and Nancy Kress, beyond the industry published page.

"orgna legging story" & "done to death" are perhaps inappropriate juxtapositions.

I trust you will never ever allow mention of the Holocaust or on the other hand any accusation of wrongdoing by Israel on the grounds that these have been less censored by our media than this genocide.

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